Dog owners in Airdrie are reporting more cases of parvovirus, a highly infectious and sometimes deadly disease among their pets.  

Christina Holland, a Veterinary Technologist at Heartland Vet Clinic in Airdrie says while she can't confirm more cases of parvo among dogs, she can say that the disease is always a problem.

"There's always the risk of parvo going around.  Once in a while, there'll be a little increase in the number of dogs who have it because it is highly contagious, so once in a while, we'll have a run of parvo-puppies as we tend to call them."

Holland explains, and she tries to do it delicately, how the disease is spread.  "It's spread through poop basically.  That's how it's shed.  Then a dog comes along and either sniffs the back end of a dog who's got parvo or sniffs the poop that's been left behind long after they've gone and then that's how they pick up the virus, it gets into their system that way."

Holland explains that the initial symptoms of a dog with parvo can be difficult to spot and a bit innocuous.  

"A puppy who feels a little crummy, might have a bit of diarrhea, doesn't want to eat a ton, but it does progress pretty quickly.  Bloody diarrhea is a big, glaring sign that parvo is something that we need to be thinking about with that little guy."

If left untreated, parvo can be fatal.

Holland says the best way to make sure your dog is safe is to be sure their immunizations are up to date.

"Vaccines.  If I hammer no other point home, it's vaccines.  You need to teach the puppies immune system what parvo looks like in a safe way so that they can mount an appropriate response to it, so their immune system can get going when they eventually see it."

Since the majority of cases are seen in dogs that are young, between six weeks and six months old, Holland has another piece of advice.  "

We do also recommend that puppies that haven't finished their entire course of vaccines stay away from dog parks, they don't go on walks around the neighbourhood where other dogs are.  You kind of have to confine them to your home and your backyard until their vaccines are done, just to be safe."

If your dog does get parvo, Holland says it is totally treatable if you catch it early.  

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